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COOKERY SCHOOL WORKSHOP HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE
. . . the French Gastro Academy

The French House Party Carcassonne offers specialist holiday cooking courses in beautiful Carcassonne, France – we’re talking chauffeurs and chic, fizz and fine food, and best of all, hands-on tuition with award-winning top French chefs who run Four Star gourmet restaurants in the region.

Named Top Retreat in the book ‘The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life’, the French House Party provides exclusive, villa-based arts, cookery, corporate and leisure group breaks for people who are searching for a European holiday with a different approach; people who place a premium on superior quality of accommodation and personal service.

For the French, the appreciation of good food and wine is almost as important as breathing. So it is perhaps no surprise that our award-winning French chefs are so enthusiastic about the French House Party Gastro Academy – the first all-inclusive culinary vacation school of its kind and calibre in the Languedoc region of South West France.

This is the ultimate hands-on gastronomic vacation: a unique opportunity to learn from master-chefs whose culinary expertise will guide you through practical creativity in the kitchen. When not instructing with the French House Party’s hands-on classes, our chefs run their own renowned gourmet restaurants in Carcassonne and its surrounding area, which are recommended in the most prominent restaurant guides.

Their exhilarating success as long-experienced Chefs de Cuisine gives them something of a celebrity status in South-West France – Michelin stars, television appearances and countless newspaper articles have ensured that their names and their signature dishes are synonymous with cooking innovation and flair.

We combine our residential culinary classes with some instruction and sampling of the phenomenal local wines, from the luscious reds of the Minervois and Corbieres to the fine sparkling white wines of Limoux, where the ‘Champagne’ method was first created many centuries ago.

Whether you select one of our 3-day weekend courses or a more extended break, you will enjoy a memorable visit to one of France’s 13th Century markets to select fresh organic ingredients for the dishes for later preparation. We also include a chauffeured outing to the medieval City of Carcassonne.

On our longer breaks there will be rural visits to a cheese-making farm or to enjoy olive oil sampling, as well as wine-tasting at a vineyard and dinner at one or two of the excellent nearby restaurants.

* The French House Party Carcassonne also offers other residential holiday courses, for example Golf and Gourmet, Creative Writing, Film-making and Songwriting with Dean Friedman. Perfect for weddings or group celebrations. Corporate groups will find that they have the ideal exclusive venue for team training, management breaks or personal development events. The professional organisational team of the French House Party tailor-make your break to ensure the smooth-running of everything from buses to banquets.

 

"With a view of the Pyrenees upon opening the shuttered window of your 300-year-old farmhouse, you'll spend five sumptuous days drinking red wine, eating food from local farmers' markets . . ."

The French House Party is recommended in Pam Grout’s book ‘The 100 Best Worldwide Vacations to Enrich Your Life’ published by National Geographic

All this, and a landscape to die for. How tempting is that?

  THE FRENCH HOUSE PARTY LOCATION  

This beautiful part of the Languedoc, centred on the medieval castle stronghold city of Carcassonne, and lodged between the Pyrenees in the south and the Black Mountains in the north, has a rich artistic, literary, culinary and historic heritage.

The Languedoc is a geographical region of many personalities: plains and rugged mountains, lakes and breathtaking gorges, elegant cities, numberless sprawling vineyards, hot-scented sunflowers in field after field.

The Canal du Midi is very close to the house and we enjoy fantastic views of the Pyrenees, which can still be white-capped, even into May. This region is steeped in the bloody history of the Cathar genocide by the Pope’s Crusaders in the 13th Century and there are numerous preserved hilltop castles within easy reach, the jewel in the crown being the astonishing Cité of Carcassonne.

We have splendid local wines (Minervois and Corbieres are said to be de rigueur for the Noughties). Wine-sampling, both at home and during escorted vineyard visits, is – naturally – a French House Party highlight. Our superb chefs provide gourmet meals – and dinner at a superior restaurant is also included in our package breaks.

Less than an hour away is the little hilltop village of Rennes le Chateau. Supposedly the place to which Jesus Christ was smuggled after escaping death, subsequent mysteries fuelled the theories and research which led to books such as Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Kate Mosse’s Sepulchre.

  COOKERY COURSES WITH THE FRENCH HOUSE PARTY  

The French House Party's spanking new kitchen meant the launch of the first-rate Gastro Academy in 2010 – the only residential holiday cookery school of its kind and calibre in South West France.

The French House Party is thrilled to welcome award-winning French chefs, Robert Abraham and Jean-Marc Boyer onto the team. When not leading the hands-on classes, the chefs run their own renowned gourmet restaurants in Carcassonne and nearby towns.

Outside France, they may not be household names, but they have a celebrity status with French people – television appearances, countless newspaper articles, Michelin stars and top-class recommendations in the most influential restaurant guides mean that they and their signature dishes are synonymous with cooking innovation and flair.

Seize this unique opportunity to learn from master-chefs who will guide you through practical creativity in the kitchen. Using fresh and seasonal ingredients, they will demonstrate and teach the cookery techniques for mastering classic French cuisine – with an added contemporary twist of adventure.

Choose from:

  • Gourmet Explorer – our flagship 6-day break provides 5 days of instruction with the emphasis on traditional cuisine and organic ingredients, polishing your skills in the creation of delicious French dishes which you will then be confident of reproducing "chez vous". Wine and food matching, at-home wine instruction, a vineyard visit and other regional outings enhance the experience.

  • Gourmet Explorer Advanced - introduced in 2012 for cooks who already have a confident level of culinary skills and wish to improve even more by learning more complex techniques in preparing and presenting classic French dishes - but often with our chefs' own personalised twists! The Advanced course format is similar to the usual Gourmet Explorer, but is a 7-day course (6 nights) and is more intense than our regular Gourmet Explorer in terms of hours spent receiving instruction from the chefs.
  • Cuisine in Brief – Our chef chooses a separate seasonal theme for each of the Friday to Sunday breaks. That may include pastries and puddings, fish, shellfish or vegetable recipes, duck, foie-gras – and you’ll be amazed at how much you can achieve in a long weekend. This mini-option is perfect for corporate reward or incentive breaks.
  • Cook au Vin – This unique 7-day break is for group bookings only (minimum 6 people), provides full lodging for the week and 3 days of cookery classes with our French chef. Three days are also spent at our partner wine school under the tutelage of an English Master of Wine, studying for the intermediate-level Wine and Spirit Education Trust certificate (WSET). This option will suit the wine enthusiast or industry professional who wishes to acquire in-depth knowledge and obtain an internationally-recognised wine qualification. Included in the price is daily transport to the wine school and dinner each evening.
  • "Chef Encounter" and Chef Encounter Plus: During late-autumn, winter and early spring, our chefs also offer regular single half-day courses from £52 per person. Please ask for details. Accommodation and transfers from airports are not included in the "Chef Encounter" options.
  CUISINE IN BRIEF  

CUISINE IN BRIEF 3 Days/2 Nights (Friday to Sunday)

Day 1 (Friday):
  Arrival

You will be collected at either Toulouse or Carcassonne Airport by Friday your chauffeur and a light lunch provided. Over coffee we’ll talk about the weekend’s plan, followed by a private wine-tasting visit to a local vineyard.

  16.00 Find out where your knives are! This short and simple hands-on culinary session will help to familiarise you with our kitchen. It will be under the guidance of the French House Party’s master-chef Robert Abraham who will guide you in making a selection of inventive canapés to accompany the evening’s aperitif – or perhaps this evening’s entrée.
  18.30 Robert will join us for fizz and canapés, to chat about the weekend’s programme and discuss the menus. You'll also get from him a list of ingredients for the next two days’ recipes, to be bought when he takes you to the market in the morning.
  20.00 Robert presents a four-course dinner with a selection of wines.
Day 2 (Saturday):
  08.00

Early breakfast and then off to Revel market – one of the oldest in Saturday France to buy ingredients, accompanied by Robert, who will advise on how to select the best fresh and organic seasonal products.

  11.30 Arrive home and immediately get to work for the first cooking session with our Chef, creating a delicious lunch with the ingredients you’ve purchased.
  13.00 Lunch at home, enjoying the fruits of your labours.
  15.00 After a short break, you will return to the kitchen: Robert begins his second demo and you’ll do some more hands-on cooking to prepare the evening’s dinner. This session will last about three hours – culminating with Robert’s demonstration of ‘dressage’ – the display and presentation of each dish.
  19.00 After a short break, to enable you to change for dinner, you will return to the kitchen to carry out your own ‘dressage’ of the evening meal.
  20.00 Dinner with a selection of wines.
Day 3 (Sunday):
  8.30

An early breakfast then to the kitchen for your final cooking session, preparing lunch under tutelage of Robert.

  12.00 Lunch – as you have prepared it.
  13.00 Our chauffeur will take you to the airport for your return home . . . but on the way, if the flight schedules allow it, we will stop off at Carcassonne’s medieval Cité - the time you will be able to spend here before you are picked up again will depend on your flight-times. La Cité is a spectacular finale to the weekend - an experience to remain with you long after your aircraft’s seat-belt sign blinks off.
  GOURMET EXPLORERS  

GOURMET EXPLORER 6 Days/5 Nights (Friday to Wednesday)

Day 1 (Friday):
  Arrival

You will be collected at either Toulouse or Carcassonne Airport by your chauffeur and a light lunch provided. Over coffee we’ll talk about the week’s plan, followed by some hands-on preparation in the kitchen, making a selection of inventive canapés for the evening’s aperitif event.

  15.00 Find out where your knives are! This short and simple hands-on culinary session will help to familiarise you with our kitchen. It will be under the guidance of one of the French House Party’s master-chefs who will guide you in making a selection of inventive canapés to accompany the evening’s aperitif – or perhaps this evening’s entrée..
  18.30 Our Chef will join us for fizz and canapés, to chat about the week’s programme and discuss the menus.
  20.00 Our chef prepares and serves a four-course dinner with a selection of wines..
Day 2 (Saturday):
  08.00

Early breakfast and then, accompanied by one of your French Chefs as advisor, you’ll be taken by car to one of our traditional local markets to buy fresh ingredients for the day’s menus.

  11.00 Arrive home and immediately get to work for the first cooking session with one of our Chefs, creating something scrummy for lunch.
  12.45 Lunch at home, enjoying the fruits of your labours.
  14.00 To the kitchen again: the Chef begins his demo and you’ll do some more hands-on cooking. This session will last about three hours – and you will be making the evening’s main course and dessert.
  19.45 Aperitifs on terrace.
  20.15 Dinner – main course and pud as prepared by group. Wine included.
Day 3 (Sunday):
  08.30

Breakfast then to the kitchen with your Chef for his third (and your fourth) cooking session. You’ll spend the morning preparing lunch under the tutelage of your Chef.

  13.00 Lunch.
  14.00

Vehicle leaves for outing: this option will vary according to your particular course, but will include one of the following:

  • A visit to a cheese-making farm.
  • A visit to an olive oil factory to sample some varieties.
  • Private wine-tasting to a vineyard.
    Finally, we will stop at Carcassonne’s La Cité on the way back. – aiming to arrive there by 18.00 which will give you a chance to look around the medieval walled city, before dinner at a superb Carcassonne restaurant, wine included.
  23.00 Transport leaves to take you home.
Day 4 (Monday):
  08.30

Breakfast.

  09.00 Your second celebrated Chef arrives to teach his first (and your fifth) cooking session – preparation of lunch. As with Saturday, it will last an estimated 3 hours.
  13.00 Lunch
  15.00 Cooking session – preparation of dinner. As with Saturday, it will last an estimated 3 hours..
  19.30 Aperitifs.
  20.00 Dinner at home, with wine.
Day 5 (Tuesday):
  08.30

Breakfast then to the kitchen for cooking session 6. You will spend the morning with Chef, preparing lunch.

  13.00 Lunch.
  Afternoon Guests may choose to spend the early part of the afternoon relaxing, or there is the option of a visit to another local vineyard.
  17.30 Wine-tasting at home.
  20.00 You will be eating out at another good local restaurant on this, your final evening.
Day 6 (Wednesday):
  09.00 Breakfast.
    Our chauffeur takes you back to the airport.
  COOK AU VIN  

COOK AU VIN 7 Days/6 Nights (Sunday to Saturday)

For this unique holiday course, you will stay at the French House Party villa and have four sessions of cookery classes.

For another three full days you will be chauffeured to and from our partner wine school, to study the world of wine and spirits, on the third day taking a WSET Level 2 examination – an internationally-recognized formal qualification in wine knowledge.

The Wine and Spirit Education Trust is the world’s leading wine education organization. Based in London, it provides training for industry professionals and enthusiastic amateurs who wish to enhance their wine knowledge. The WSET exams are considered the benchmark for wine education throughout the world. In the past year, 24,000 students have taken a WSET course in 47 different countries. The course is taught in English by a Master of Wine but is also available in French on request.

WSET Course Content:

  • WSET Level 2 Systematic Approach to Wine Tasting.
  • Viticulture and Vinification.
  • Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Syrah, Grenache and Riesling.
  • Italy, Spain and Portugal.
  • Fortified wines, spirits and liqueurs.
  • Up to 50 wines tasted.
  • Multiple choice exam - 50 questions.
Day 1 (Sunday):
  Arrival

You will be collected at either Toulouse or Carcassonne Airport by your chauffeur and a light lunch provided. Over coffee we’ll talk about the week’s plan, followed by some hands-on preparation in the kitchen, making a selection of inventive canapés for the evening’s aperitif event.

  15.00 It always helps to know where your knives are! So this first, simple cooking session, as well as being your introduction to your Master-chef, will help you to familiarise yourself with the kitchen. You will be preparing a selection of canapes for the evening.
  18.00 Our award-winning Chef will join us for Kir Royale and your canapés, to chat about the programme of cooking later in the week and to discuss the menus.
  20.00 Our Chef will serve this evening’s four-course dinner with a selection of wines.
Day 2 (Monday):
  08.00

Early breakfast and then, accompanied by your French Chef as advisor, you’ll be taken by car to one of our traditional local markets to buy fresh ingredients for the day’s menus.

  11.00 Arrive home and immediately get to work for the first cooking session with the Chef, creating something scrummy for lunch.
  13.00 Lunch at home, enjoying the fruits of your labours.
  15.00 To the kitchen again: the Chef begins his demo and you’ll do some more hands-on cooking – you will be making the evening’s main course and dessert. This session will last about three hours – culminating with chef’s demonstration of ‘dressage’ – the display and presentation of each dish.
  19.00 After a short break, to enable you to change for dinner, you will return to the kitchen to carry out your own ‘dressage’ of the evening meal.
  20.00 Dinner – main course and pud as prepared by group. Wine included.
Day 3/4/5 (Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday):
  08.00

Early breakfast then transport to the Wine School for the WSET course.

  09.30
- 17.00
You will be studying for your WSET certificate. Lunch is taken here each day.
  17.30

You will be collected from the Wine School and brought home.

  19.00 Aperitifs.
  23.00

Dinner.
On one of these evenings dinner will taken at a restaurant.

Day 6 (Friday):
  08.30

Early breakfast then to the kitchen. Morning is spent with Chef, preparing lunch.

  12.30 Lunch as prepared by the group.
  14.00

Vehicle leaves for outing: this option will vary according to your particular course, but will include one of the following:

  • A visit to a cheese-making farm.
  • A visit to an olive oil factory to sample some varieties.

Our return route will take in Carcassonne’s La Cité – and you will have the chance to look around the medieval walled city, before dinner at a superb Carcassonne restaurant, wine included.

  23.00 Transport leaves to take you home.
Day 7 (Saturday):
   

Breakfast and Departures.

  OUR CHEFS  
  ROBERT ABRAHAM  
  Named the 2009 Midi-Pyrenees Chef of the Year, Robert Abraham has twenty-six years’ experience of l’art culinaire. Recently appointed Head Chef at the impressive Chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse hotel in Couiza, just south of Carcassonne, he previously held this position for five years at Le Ciel D’Or restaurant in the Four star Relais Royal Hotel in Mirepoix, where, among other plaudits, his food was awarded the maximum three Michelin Guide fourchettes for fine food quality.

He has appeared on TV, run restaurants in Paris and Ceret, and with his own St Malo restaurant – called ‘Robert Abraham’ – won many highly-prized star ratings from the most influential restaurant guides – from three Michelin fourchettes to toques from the Bottin Gourmand, the Champérard and the Gault Millau, which awarded him the Cle d’Or.

Robert’s ‘signature’ is incorporating the use of flowers and unusual spices into traditional dishes. Jonathan Meades of The Times remarked of the St Malo restaurant:

The cleverest, most technically accomplished chefs are rooting through the trad repertoires of their provinces and are applying to the dishes of those repertoires the techniques they acquired as apprentices to the masters of nouvelle cuisine...borne out by the cooking of Abraham...thus, he flavours a galette of leeks, mussels and onions with coriander and sweetish curry power, a promise of some sensational cooking, a promise that is brilliantly fulfilled...The dinner I ate here was the finest I’ve eaten in France for years’.

  JEAN-MARC BOYER  
  A native of Carcassonne, Jean-Marc Boyer is one of France’s dynamic young chefs. While not a household name abroad, he is much feted in his homeland with awards – amongst them a Michelin Star in 2007 – and receives glowing reviews in numerous publications and restaurant guides. He also makes regular appearances on television, most recently featuring in an hour-long programme on the top French Channel TF1.

Having trained in Paris, Jean-Marc then spent more than 20 years in the capital city, working with some of the country’s greatest chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants, including twelve years at the three star Ambrosie under Bernard Pacaund and finally at the Ritz. Returning to the Languedoc, he now enthusiastically produces fine local cuisine at his restaurant Le Puits de Tresor in the ancient Cathar town of Lastours.

Jean-Marc sees himself as an artisan, talking of creating dishes spontaneously and instinctively, using the local and seasonal produce grown and reared in the area. He sums up his philosophy in three words: ‘Quality, authenticity and rigour’.

  COOKERY HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION  

Domaine St Raymond is a beautiful, spacious 200-year old stone house with gardens and terraces, a large swimming pool, a boules pitch and a tennis court. We have a supply of bicycles - and the road is flat right down to the Canal du Midi towpath! There’s table tennis and a pool table.

Living Area

The open-plan living space has an Art Deco design, with floor-to-ceiling arched windows, a central, glassed-in staircase and indoor plants and trees which reach almost to the roof. A galleried landing running around the perimeter of the first floor overlooks a raised dais with a featured digital grand piano . Double glass doors at the rear open into the pool and its surrounding areas.

There are eight individually-designed double or twin bedrooms, all ensuite, with air-conditioning units, hairdryers, CD players and tea and coffee-making facilities.

On the ground floor the large sitting area has comfortable sofas and an open fireplace for log fires.There is a pool-table and a classic 1950s juke-box for those who hanker after the Beatles, Elvis and Chuck Berry. .

The Kitchen

Large, bright and airy, the French House Party’s enormous kitchen designed in our signature red and black colours has been tailor-made to accommodate up to 10 work-stations for our Gastro Academy clients taking instruction from Chef. There is an electric oven and hob and a further Smeg cooking range in dazzling pillar-box red which has a gas hob and and electric oven, a dishwasher, microwave and two refrigeration/deep-freeze units, together with a long, twin-level central island and three separate sink units.

Swimming Pool

We have a large pool with paved and grassed surrounds and a covered barbecue and outdoor dining area which occupies the far end of the pool terrace.

  CONTACT DETAILS  
  The French House Party Experience
The Jaylands
Abberley
Worcs
WR6 6BN
United Kingdom
Phone:
01299 896819
07900 322791
Email:
enquiries@frenchhouseparty.co.uk
Web:
www.frenchhouseparty.eu
 
 
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